World Cup Previews for Groups C and D
by Celso Chamochumbi - 6/20/2006
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The last round of group play concludes this week. Some teams have already secured their pass to the round of 16. Others will be hoping to parlay one final magical performance with the outcome from another match, thus working themselves into the elimination phase of the tournament.
Wednesday’s games feature Groups C and D. These groups will again be paired during the first games of the second round, as the first place finisher from group C will play the second place from group D, and vice versa, the winner of Group D plays the second place of Group C.
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Group C: Portugal, Mexico, Angola, and Iran
At 10am (EST), Mexico and Portugal will square off, while Angola and Iran will play simultaneously. Heading into theses matches, Mexico and Portugal figure the most likely to advance from this group, although Angola is still mathematically alive.
Portugal enters the game versus Mexico with six points, and needs only a tie to secure first place. Mexico enters with four points, and can also afford the tie in terms of advancing, but needs to win order to finish first in the group. Angola has one point, and needs for Portugal to win and to beat Iran by at least two goals.
Bodog.com lists Portugal the favorite at +140, with Mexico commanding a +210, and the draw showing a return of +180. The total is at 2.5, (under, -170).
- Each team posted a 1-1 record with the over through two games.
- The match will be played at Gelsenkirchen, at the cutting-edge stadium which holds 52,000 fans, of which most remain happy throughout the match by virtue of the 5km beer pipeline that feeds into all areas of the stadium during games and concerts. The weather is expected to hit a high of 80 degrees for this mid afternoon tilt.
- As reported widely, Mexico’s Jared Borghetti will miss the match due to injury.
- Portugal, in turn, may rest three key players: Costinha, Pauleta, and Deco to avoid having these players accumulate their second yellow card of the tournament. For reference, during the third game of the 2002 World Cup, Portugal’s Head Coach Felipe Scolari, then coach of Brazil, rested players that had already been booked.
- Portugal will be advancing beyond the group stage for the first time in forty years. Accordingly, the star of that 1966 squad Eusebio, a.k.a. the “Black Panther”, has been following this team closely and gave the team encouraging words prior to the match versus Iran. Reportedly, he will stay close to the team for the remainder of their stay in Germany.
- Mexico has reached the round of 16 in their four last World Cup appearances, and have not lost their last ten group phase matches.
In the other match of Group C, Angola and Iran are listed at plus 150, with the draw at plus 250. The total is 2.5, (under -150). The match will be played in Leipzig, the only city of the former East Germany among the tournament sites.
-The over is 2-0 in Iran’s two matches, and 0-2 in both of Angola’s defensive-minded affairs.
- Of note, Iran will be without midfielder Javad Nekonam due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
- The only game Iran won in the 1998 World Cup was its final match of the first round.
- The Iranian team has allowed at least two goals per match in its last five internationals.
- Angola is the only African team with an African coach.
- Angola has yet to score in the World Cup, a fact partly attributed to its 4-5-1 formation and one which makes a big win over Iran unlikely.
- The star of the Angolan team has thus far been goalkeeper João Ricardo.
Group D: , Holland, Ivory Coast, and Serbia & Montenegro
The night games in Germany (3pm EST) will sort out the standings for Group C. Argentina and Holland will battle for first place in the group, while the Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro will play out their participation in World Cup 2006.
On the heels of a much lauded demolition of Serbia & Montenegro, Argentina enters the match slightly favored. It also commands the goal differential advantage, and will win the group if the two teams play to a draw.
Bodog.com has Argentina even, the draw at (+220), and Holland at (+245). The total is at 2.5, (under -145).
The temperature in Frankfurt around kick off should be pleasant, hovering in the low-to-mid 70s, according to the most current weather reports.
- These teams have faced each other three times previously in World Cup history, and the Dutch have prevailed in two of those matches. The most recent, a quarter-final affair in the 1998 World Cup ended dramatically with the late goal by Dennis Bergkamp in the second overtime which sent the Dutch on to the semi finals.
- Head Coach Marco van Basten’s side enters the match riding a fourteen game unbeaten streak, but the Orange are expected to play without Gio van Bronckhorst, Arjen Robben, Mark van Bommel and Joris Mathijsen because they have already accumulated one yellow card in the tournament.
- Similarly, Argentina star midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme is expected to be out, and forward Hernan Crespo will likely sit due his standing yellow card.
Simultaneously, Ivory Coast will attempt to earn its first points in World Cup history in a bout against also winless (and humiliated) Serbia & Montenegro.
Bodog.com lists Ivory Coast at +110, Serbia & Montenegro at +200, with the draw at +230. The total is at 2.5, (under -140).
- The over is 1-1 in Serbia’s two matches, and 2-0 (both 1-2 defeats) for the Ivory Coast.
- The head coaches of both teams have already announced that they will resign once the tournament ends.
- Ivory Coast coach Henri Michel said that he will give some players their first taste of World Cup action in this match, and has pledged an attacking strategy against Serbia.
- Meanwhile, the Serbian camp is mired by division, player discontent, and political turmoil at home.
My Crystal Ball:
I believe that the surest thing from these games is that Mexico will advance to the next round. Although the margin of profit may be reduced, I see great value on playing Mexico with the tie (+180) and the win (+210). The Portuguese have accomplished their primary goal, and will likely be without three key players.
I also envision the Ivory Coast going home a winner. This team has hung tough against Holland and Argentina, and is hardly in the quagmire that the Serbian team finds itself.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Doc’s Picks Services.